Venue for Bafana’s huge Afcon qualifier against Libya to be revealed ‘this week’

23 February 2019 - 12:54 By Marc Strydom
SA Football Association acting chief executive Russell Paul is expected to take over the post on a full time basis.
SA Football Association acting chief executive Russell Paul is expected to take over the post on a full time basis.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

The South African Football Association (Safa) expects to be informed early this coming week of the final date and venue for Bafana Bafana’s huge final 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away against Libya.

The Group E match on the weekend of March 22 to 24 – where Bafana need a draw to qualify and Libya need a win – is expected to be played in Tunisia due to the unstable security situation in Libya.

The deadline for Libya to submit a final venue and date to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) was Wednesday‚ and they complied with that‚ Safa acting CEO Russell Paul said on Saturday.

But Caf have to align the fixture with a schedule that weekend made more complex by the need for most of the groups’ final matches to be played at the same time.

“They [the Libyan FA] have provided it to Caf. It was issued earlier in the week‚” Paul said.

“But the procedure is that Caf has to look at it in line with all the other fixtures before the issue a final date and time and venue.

“Because it’s the last fixture in every group‚ so remember those are generally played as close as possible or at the same time.

“So probably on Monday or Tuesday we will get the final info from Caf as to where and when we are playing.”

Paul said the final two Group E fixtures – Nigeria host Seychelles in the other game – do not necessarily need to be played at the same time.

“The Nigeria-Seychelles match has got no influence‚ because Nigeria are already through [and Seychelles cannot qualify]‚” he said.

“So it’s quite a complicated thing. Caf have to look at all the other matches‚ and see how they fit everybody in‚ with many matches needing to be played at the same time.”

Paul said he had at least been informed‚ but stressed that it was without confirmation‚ that the country where the Libya-Bafana match will be played is Tunisia.

Libya have played their previous two Group E games in Sfax‚ Tunisia and Cairo‚ Egypt.

The lateness in finding out a final venue has frustrated efforts by Safa to research facilities‚ a suitable hotel and travel arrangements well ahead of time for the hugely important game.

The Nations Cup will be played in Egypt in June and July.